Jawsh 685, a 17-year-old New Zealand-born Samoan Cook Islander producer, is one of popular music’s pleasant surprises in 2020, as his song “Laxed (Siren Beat)” became a TikTok sensation thanks to the Culture Dance challenge, got reworked into the Jason Derulo team-up “Savage Love (Laxed – Siren Beat),” and streaked into the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Now, the teen has spun the unlikely success into more high-profile collaborations — first with Lauv and Tyga on the single “Sweet & Sour,” and this week, with BTS, who hopped on an electric new remix of “Savage Love.”
As he adjusts to newfound fame and eyes more opportunities to bring Siren Beats to the world, Jawsh 685 checked in with Billboard to answer 20 questions about his viral success, teaming up with artists like Derulo and BTS, and the collaborator that’s high on his bucket list.
1. What’s the first piece of music that you bought for yourself, and what was the medium?
I usually stream music, but recently purchased my own track!
2. What was the first concert you saw?
I have never been to one, haha!
3. Who made you realize you could be an artist full-time?
There wasn’t really any one person who made me see it. It’s actually more the people who support me, the label and my management team that help me to see that this is where my future is. I wouldn’t be where I am without my team!
4. What’s at the top of your professional bucket list?
I think working with an artist I truly admire like Akon, and have them on one of my beats. I also want to get into other genres of music. So having success outside of Siren Beats would be cool.
5. How did your hometown/city shape who you are?
Just by the culture, environment and the people. Growing up around mixed races and being a born-and-bred Samoan / Kuki is a big thing for me, because it’s Polynesian heritage which I represent and love. Everything ‘round me has shaped me to be the man I am today.
6. What’s the last song you listened to?
“See You Again,” by Charlie Puth and Wiz Khalifa.
7. If you could see any artist in concert, dead or alive, who would it be?
Eazy-E or Pop Smoke.
8. At what point did you realize that the Culture Dance challenge was taking off on TikTok?
My friends hit me up when it got to about 20,000 videos, and then we watched it get bigger from there. I knew it was something different when it hit 50,000 videos. Now it’s at like 55 million, mad!
9. How did it feel watching “Laxed” take off on a global stage?
Exciting and new. Felt like a whole new experience in life itself. Things happened so quickly. I feel very blessed to have had so much success in the past 6 months, I know it doesn’t usually happen like this, so just making the most of it. “Laxed” brought Siren Beats to the world. That’s something that is really special. I want to keep putting SA & Pacific Music on the world stage.
10. Describe your relationship with Jason Derulo, with whom you share the top 10 hit “Savage Love.”
He’s a solid artist to work with. He’s not only known worldwide but is really talented and was a blessing to work alongside him and just release the music to the world!
11. How did the song “Sweet & Sour” with Lauv and Tyga come together?
Just tried my best to be creative, mixed and mastered a beat just good enough to pull a great track off alongside some dream artists! Tyga and Lauv! My teams, Page 1 Management & Columbia, brought it all together.
12. How would you describe your production influences?
I’d say by the music that I’ve discovered from Tahiti / New Cal on YouTube. All Siren Jams, which us youngins listen to and develop from places all over the world. Just a vibe of Polynesian sounds for beats and remixes!
13. How has your day-to-day life changed the most since your song became a massive hit?
Big time impacted it in a mostly positive way. Obviously I have a lot more interviews, but really, I still live at home, do school, see my boys and make beats every day. The fame and money comes but I try to remain as I was before it all happened and just look after my loved ones with whatever is made, and also to bring smiles to the world!
14. How did BTS get added onto a new “Savage Love” remix, and what are your thoughts on the new version?
What those guys are doing right now is huge. I respect them so much. Like “Sweet & Sour,” my teams linked up with theirs and brought them on. It’s cool to get another version of the beat out there. It means even more people will hear a Siren Beat, which is what I want. I really like seeing how people interpret the beat and do something different with it every time. It was an exciting idea of my team to sort out, went with it and are very excited for everyone to just listen to it and vibe!
15. Which artist is your dream collaborator?
I’d say Eazy-E, but alive I’d say an icon like Akon!
16. What’s your karaoke go-to?
Don’t really do karaoke really, but I’d say “See You Again.”
17. What movie, or song, always makes you cry?
I wouldn’t say cry, but hits real hard being a fan and big lover of not only the movie / story and franchise: Fast & Furious forever.
18. If you were not a musician, what would you be?
Probably trying out mechanics, or something to do along technology.
19. What’s one thing about you that even your most devoted fans don’t know?
I used to love listening to Elvis when I was younger, haha.
20. What’s one piece of advice you would give to your younger self?
Just to not worry, push toward my dreams and never give up. Even if you have to lose things on the way, never give up on what you love and aspire to do or be.